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Chamomile Vanilla Cupcakes


Talk achamomile-vanilla-cupcakes-crdt-nato-weltonbout the ultimate tea party—delicate chamomile adds a subtle grassy nuance to these vanilla-spiked, buttercream-topped cupcakes.

225 grams (1 cup) unsalted butter
⅔ cup milk
6 chamomile teabags
160 grams (scant ¾ cup) superfine sugar
3 large eggs
1½ tsp. vanilla extract
210 grams (1⅔ cup) all-purpose flour
1½ tsp. baking powder
Pinch of salt
200 to 300 grams (1⅔ to 2⅓ cups) confectioners’ sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line the muffin tin with paper liners.

Put the butter, milk and teabags in a small pan over low heat. Once the butter has completely melted, let the mixture simmer for a couple of minutes. Set aside to cool for 5 minutes, then strain out the teabags, collecting the chamomile-infused liquid in a bowl. Some of it will have evaporated and some will get lost in the teabags, but you should still have 1 to 1¼ cups of liquid.

Divide the liquid into two bowls—the first bowl containing two-thirds (⅔ to 1 cup), the other containing the remaining third. Set both bowls in the fridge for 20 minutes to slightly firm the butter.

Beat the larger portion of the chilled milk mixture with the sugar for a couple of minutes until slightly lighter in color. Add the eggs and vanilla extract. In a separate bowl, stir the flour, baking powder, and salt together, then fold this mixture into the egg mixture until all is combined. You’ll end up with a thick batter, which drops softly off an upturned spoon. If it stays clinging to the spoon, add a splash of milk to thin it and reach that dropping consistency.

Divide the batter among the lined muffin cups and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, testing at the lower end of this interval and keeping a close eye on the cupcakes until they’re done. Small cakes such as these go from under to over-baked very quickly, so it’s important to be present during the latter part of the cooking time.

To make the buttercream, beat the reserved chamomile-infused milk mixture until smooth, gradually adding the confectioners’ sugar until the buttercream is thick. Buttercream shouldn’t be bound by rules and ratios — just use enough sugar to produce a good texture and flavor, balancing the butter’s richness with sweetness and testing as you go. Chill the buttercream in the fridge while you wait for the cupcakes to cool.

Once the cupcakes have cooled, top each one with a slick of buttercream.

Variations: This recipe can be adapted to play host to almost any tea spin-off (Lady Gray tea with orange zest is a favorite).

Makes 12 cupcakes.

Reprinted with permission from Crumb: A Baking Book by Ruby Tandoh. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc.

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